My hope is to offer encouragement to writers as well as those who simply love to read. You will find eclectic snippets here—news of projects I’m working on, comments regarding books I enjoy, favorite authors, quotes, and reflections regarding my own experiences. I especially like to write about my dreams—those parables in the night seasons. Symbols and metaphors delight and intrigue me. You will find them here.
I teach a class once a month at a local detention center. There is a group of women in a drug and alcohol program at the jail, and my class focuses on ways to reduce harm as it regards managing the disease of addiction. We talk a lot about coping skills--safe ways to manage anxiety and loneliness and anger.
Often to get the ball rolling, I bring an activity for the women to participate in. For this session I said, "Now imagine you're going on a very important and much-anticipated trip. You can only take three pieces of clothing, and a coat. You already own a nice pair of leather shoes. What would you choose to take and describe your coat?" The small room began to buzz with their imaginings. What woman does not like clothes? And these women do like to imagine themselves in prettier, nicer clothing, because they are outfitted in the same uniform--dingy gray and black striped prison wear, their shoes cheap plastic open-toed slides. Sometimes seeing their bare feet in those shoes fills me with sadness--big toes with chipped polish and heels toughened and black. Almost none of them wear socks, and their feet look cold. A thin-stick woman with haunting blue eyes breaks me from my reverie and says she would take black pants, a black top and a lime-green scarf--her coat heavy with a detachable hood and zip out lining. "I don't know where I'll be going, so I'll be prepared for any kind of weather."
It is almost Christmas, and I've created a quiet space here in my study to write. It is raining outside. A candle burns. I'm drinking Hazelnut coffee. I have time to reflect on the year almost gone. I look ahead to the year that waits. And I have a longing to encourage you, dear reader of these blog posts. Thank you for visiting my page.
Life is imperfect. Many of you have soldiered through agonies and sorrows that I cannot know. I pray God would screen your sorrows and fears--strain them out so thoroughly that all that remains is pure, clear life--hope for the future and the consolation that God is for you--confident that you are loved by Him.
Some of you have encountered great blessing, a year of accomplishment and productivity--new beginnings. May you continue to experience God's favor and success--mental poise a constant--wisdom overflowing as you tackle new projects.
I am unmoored easily--drifting off into melancholy waters almost effortlessly. Mired in the sticks. I am improving, though, in extricating my vessel and rowing away from those dim shores. And that is accomplished so often by changing my mind. What am I emphasizing in my life: What's wrong? What's not been done? The what ifs? I'd surely be happier if this or that was different. If that person would just change their stupid ways. I know better than to get stuck in this opaque sea. I have the power to think differently. And so I asked, "What's making me happy?"
I dream often. I attempt to record these parables that come in the night watches, but frequently they melt from my memory like a light snowfull on a sunny, wintry morning. But not this one. The dream stayed with me.
Someone left a dog on my porch. The dog was golden with soft fur--as soft as those throws that you can buy now at department stores--that if you lie down on the sofa and cover yourself with them, you'll never want to get up. He was gentle and looked up at me with soulful blue eyes. I couldn't imagine anyone not claiming this gorgeous creature. I thought, "Could I keep him?" I hesitated. He wasn't mine. I looked for someone he might belong to, but there was no one. And so I imagined that he could actually be mine. He could be my friend. Someone to walk with. I love talking walks. I became joyful believing he and I could walk the road by my house together. His name was Elliott.
I looked at my calendar for December--not much white space--all the little boxes filled in with something. Commitments, parties, shopping, decorationg. I felt overwhelmed and caught off guard. I thought I had chosen carefully this year--built in margin to create a more relaxed and tranquil holiday season. Yet the configurations on my calendar did not promise peace.
So my task I realized was to cut through the pandemonium. "But how?" I asked. One of my truest ways to cope is writing pages every morning before I start my day. I got the idea from Julia Cameron and her classic book on recovering creativity, The Artist's Way. Often the Morning Pages offer answers to living my life more creatively and sanely. There in those pages I "practice the scales of life," so to speak. I write about daily events and my emotions. There are prayers on the page. I record ideas and dreams. I recall good books I've read--movies that make an impact. The pages are the keyboard, the words the scales, to help me fine tune the melodies of my life and heart. I went to the pages again and looked back. These are a few coping strategies that assist me in cutting through the pandemonium: